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The reception room. Between decorum and subversion

Le « salon » : entre décorum et subversion

Workshop “GIS Moyen-Orient et Mondes musulmans”

Atelier du GIS « Moyen Orient et Mondes musulmans »

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Published on Monday, September 01, 2014


Dans les mondes arabes et musulmans, le salon désigne un espace hybride dont les fonctions sociales ont profondément évolué au cours du XXe siècle. Inclus au sein de l’espace domestique ou séparé de celui-ci, il constitue un lieu de représentation dont l’acteur principal est une famille ou un individu. Si de nombreux travaux se sont penchés sur les différentes formes de « salon » en tant qu’institutions productrices et régulatrices d’ordres sociaux et politiques, l’objectif de cet atelier est d’interroger cet espace composite comme scène de l’ordre et du désordre. Nous souaithons examiner les manières d’investir cet espace comme lieu de projection d’identités culturelles, politiques et religieuses, selon des contextes ordinaires ou extraordinaires. Pour ce faire, nous porterons une attention particulière aux modalités concrètes de transformation du « salon » : d’espace domestique en espace public (religieux et politiques) et inversement.


In the Middle East, the reception room intertwines the boundaries of the intimate sphere and politics, of the private and the public as well as of religion and the profane. The social and political functions of this hybrid space have profoundly evolved throughout the 20th century. Located in the domestic space or outside the household, it may be considered as a site of representation where the main actor is a family (more or less enlarged) or an individual (a religious/political figure, male or female). The multiple forms of the reception room are rooted in specific historical, local, political and social contexts, designated by various expressions: majlismadâfadîwândîwâniyyamanzûl, sâlûnmafraj or ghurfa al-duyûf. Most of the academic studies dealing with these different forms focus on their role as institutions producing social and political order (Michaël Gilsenan (1983), Jean Hannoyer (1989), Fatiha Dazi-Heni (1994), Jean-Charles Depaule (1997), Myriam Ababsa (2001), Christine Jungen (2009), Melhem Chaoul (2008).

The aim of the workshop is to shed light on this composite space in a different way, by investigating its material and symbolic settings, in view of the ordinary or extraordinary situations that occur within it. What are the objects, images and practices by which the reception room exposes cultural, religious or cultural identities ? Furniture, portraits, religious artefacts, calligraphies, flags, etc. are displayed and mobilized according to a scenography reflecting a “decorum”: norms, traditions as well as social and political conventions. How and according to what kind of compromise the “outside” (the concrete environment of the street or the omnipresent State) imposes itself in the domestic space and conversely, how domestic spaces are transposed in the outside world ? In what circumstances the reception room eventually becomes a site of political and religious contention or subversion ?

We are inviting anthropologist, political scientists, historians, sociologists and geographers to explore the reception room as an arena of order and disorder. We would like to focus on ethnographic insights on the practical, material and symbolic modalities of the making of this particular space. In order to grasp its historical evolutions, we will specifically focus on analyses addressing the reception room as a site of projection of cultural, political and religious identities, whether in ordinary (moments which set the pace of family life, visits, etc.) or extraordinary contexts ( funerals, reconciliation ceremonies, elections, revolts, etc.). Within this framework, we will investigate the concrete modalities of the reception room’s transformation from a domestic to a public space (religious or political) and vice versa. This perspective will lead us to scrutinize the roles and the different circulations of men and women within this singular space.

Paper subissions

Please send a title and a summary (300 words max.) before 15th October 2014 to Emma Aubin-Boltanski (emma.aubin-boltanski@ehess.fr) and Cécile Boëx (cecile.boex@ehess.fr)


  • Inalco - 2 rue de Lille
    Paris, France (75007)


  • Wednesday, October 15, 2014


  • salon, décorum, subversion, espace domestique, espace public, mondes arabes et musulmans, Reception room, decorum, subversion, domestic shpere, public sphere, Near East and the Arab world


  • Cécile Boëx
    courriel : cecile [dot] boex [at] ehess [dot] fr
  • Emma Aubin-Boltanski
    courriel : emma [dot] aubin-boltanski [at] ehess [dot] fr

Information source

  • Cécile Boëx
    courriel : cecile [dot] boex [at] ehess [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The reception room. Between decorum and subversion », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, September 01, 2014, https://calenda.org/298159

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